‘Quadg0d’ Malinin to headline Grand Prix of Figure Skating at Skate America
The new face of American figure skating started playing with the quadruple axel, that unicorn of a jump that had never been landed in competition, when he started seeing some of the sport’s best try their hand there. about a year old.
Double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu? He continued to miss the jump by 4 1/2 rotations. Nathan Chen, the American gold medalist at the Beijing Games in February? He couldn’t do it either.
“At first it was kind of a joke,” explained Ilia Malinin, “but after a little while I realized maybe it was possible.”
The possibility became a reality at the US Classic last month in Lake Placid, New York. Malinin used the lower-tier event as a launching pad to land figure skating’s toughest jump and in doing so, established himself not only as the new face of American skating, but also as the early favorite to win. gold at the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy.
“For me in general, after landing that jump, it made me a lot more confident,” said Malinin, 17, who will be making his senior Grand Prix debut at Skate America near Boston this weekend. “It makes me realize that I have the ability to pull through in competition when there’s a lot of stress and a lot of pressure on you.”
WATCH | Malinin plays in Boston:
Canada launches the Grand Prix
Canada will also compete in the men’s, pairs and ice dance events in Boston, before the Grand Prix heads north to Mississauga on October 28.
Wesley Chiu of Richmond, BC, and Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., will face Malinin in the men’s program.
American pair Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier took advantage of Russia’s absence to claim their first world title as a pair in March, capping a dream season that included spectacular performances at the Beijing Games. Their biggest challenge at Skate America may come from young Anastasiia Smirnova and Danylo Siianytsia, the reigning US Junior Champions.
Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac, both of Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Qc, form a team in the ice dance competition, while Carolane Soucisse of Chateauguay, Qc, and Shane Firus of North Vancouver, C .-B. compete.
The Americans are expected to have ice dancing favorites at Skate America with world bronze medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who helped the United States win team silver at the Beijing Games. The duo replaced the retired Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue as the top team in the country, although Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker weren’t far behind.
“It’s true that a lot has changed in the last eight months since the Olympics,” Bates said, “but nothing has really changed for us. We knew we wanted to keep skating. we do. We know there is a lot of room for growth in our skating.”
What makes the quad axel so difficult is that it is the only jump in figure skating with a forward-facing entry, forcing skaters to complete an extra half rotation. The triple axel is vexing enough for most men and women, which is why the jump has a high point value. But adding an extra 360 degrees to the jump tests the limits of human performance.
The problem now? Since no one had ever done it, the quad axel’s base value isn’t much higher than other quad jumps, making it a risk-reward proposition where the risk usually outweighs the risk. reward.
In other words, there’s a chance Malinin won’t unclog the quad axle at Skate America, or his other scheduled event at the Espoo Grand Prix in late November in Finland. The goal for both is to earn enough points to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, which will take place in December in Turin, Italy.
Malinin became the heavy favorite to win Skate America last weekend when Olympic silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama of Japan pulled out due to injury. Chen and fellow U.S. Olympian Vincent Zhou are taking a year off, and the strong Russian skaters are still shut out of competition due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
WATCH | Russian skaters banned from competition:
“I think for Skate America, it’s really important for me to skate cleanly,” Malinin said, “and I think just having kind of a basic layout for my program, and not trying to go for something too over the top or two more. To have a layout where I will be able to do it very well and very consistently and give myself the best chance of getting to the final.”
Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto, who beat Russia’s Olympic podium with a bronze medal in Beijing, will be the one to beat in the women’s competition at Skate America. The best American could be Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old junior world champion, who will be making her senior Grand Prix debut ahead of the 2026 Winter Games.